On Tact, Manners and Etiquette
I’m not the best at social media, but occasionally I manage to attract some publicity.
Funnily enough, across the multiple accounts I run, my most popular posts tend to be about having good manners. This isn’t something I’ve particularly planned, but it’s a funny coincidence.
It’s also unsurprising when you look at the modern world and the complete lack of social behaviour that passes for accessible.
But this article isn’t for going grumpy old grandpa on you.
This article is going to save your life if you follow it.
I Saw Some Guy On Twitter…
I saw a guy on Twitter the other day. He was talking to friend of the blog, Kyle Trouble.
He’d said something along the lines of this:
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Hey Kyle. I need your advice. I want to move to Russia or Eastern Europe because I’m sick of my University. I might get kicked out because I called some obese girl a whale. What are your recommendations?
After a couple of emails, his motivations seemed to be:
I want to live the rock star lifestyle and be able to express my opinion, man.
Kyle gave the guy the best advice. It basically amounted to, “Take a step back and start behaving reasonably.”
That leads into the first part of what I need to talk about.
Don’t be stupid.
Forget about etiquette for a second here. I checked the guy out, and he’s at one of the UK’s best Universities in one of the UK’s best cities. (My second home, in fact.) He was even studying a STEM subject and so life prospects are looking pretty good for him.
So – to be forward for a second – throwing it away because you can’t keep your mouth shut is stupid.
There’s no need to insult a fat person. I mean really. You gain absolutely nothing. We’ll come back to this in the next mini-section.
But the guy is risking a lot because he’s in a decent position in life and has prospects. This isn’t a conscious, calculated risk either… he wants to move abroad so he can express his opinion.
Dumb. Let’s move on.
Don’t Be A Dick.
I’ve written about this before, and it shouldn’t bear repeating – but don’t be a dick.
You have nothing to gain from insulting other people, and it makes any civilised human being cringe when you do it. I’m talking about morons in bars who can’t keep their thoughts to themselves and I’m also talking about the idiots on Twitter who get in “Twitter wars” with people they disagree with… that stuff might give you impressions or whatever, but impressions mean little when you realise that you want to appeal to the best people and the best people are turned off by displays of being a dick.
In the example from the other day – a guy called a girl fat. What does he gain from that?
He’s made someone’s day worse and risked his academic future for absolutely nothing. Oh, except the potential to fly away and move to paradise. Let’s talk about that.
Online Moron Alpha Male Posturing
The kid in question wants to give up life in the UK and go be a rock star in Russia so he can express his opinion. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks and has the whole alpha male “I do what I want, I’m king” mindset thing going on.
(I might be misrepresenting here, but I’m going off the paraphrased source material and framing a wider point.)
How well do you think that’ll work out in a country that’s a lot more insular and risky than the UK?
There’s a tendency in this little young male entrepreneur corner of the internet to be the “I’m answerable to nobody” archetype.
In a sense, that’s great, because independence is good and building your own business is a great goal. I’m all for that.
On the other hand… a lot of it is just stupid posturing.
Here’s some real world anecdote stuff: A few years back, I worked on some online projects with a few alpha-male manosphere types who burned their bridges and talked a lot about anti-fragility and all those buzzwords.
Many of them still make their money online. But they’re trapped in a cycle of digital nomad stuff because they burned all their bridges with their social circles and some of them are done because of the negative rep that even searching their name attracts. They live without a social network, often in third world countries with low cost of living.
And these aren’t the big names you’re thinking of… if you are a multi-millionaire, then you can say what you want to an extent. But if you’re not and you’re just some twenty-two year old guy with no certain prospect of riches… good luck.
Or don’t be stupid.
Sensible Business Advice
I wrote yesterday that in the real world, business isn’t a mixed bag of everyone. At the top of every business pyramid, the people tend to be smart, well-educated and well-put together.
That’s why I can’t really endorse any of the “Yeah man get fuck you money and tell people you’re your own boss!” mentality.
Most successful people don’t have this mentality. They have backbones, sure, and you wouldn’t cross them in business. But they don’t tend to be dicks for no reason. That attitude comes mainly from either extreme blue collar types and other people who basically run micro-businesses.
You wouldn’t walk into a law firm and expect the partner to be a complete dick with no manners, for instance. If you wanted that law firm as a client, then you probably shouldn’t behave like a dick either.
Sensible Life Advice
Despite a shameless media and the promotion of characters with less-than-stellar ethics, good manners are basically universal across time and culture.
It is always better to have good manners than not. If you’re a contrarian or anti-establishment type, then it’s best to keep your mouth shut unless you’ve got a very good reason not to.
“But what about changing the world to what I want?”
You do that through positive action. You don’t whine about it on Twitter.
Learning basic manners, etiquette and treating people right is the closest you’ll get to an actual life hack. Not learning them will create an otherwise artificial ceiling on what you’re able to achieve in life. This extends socially, mentally and physically as well as in business.